New teams, old rivalries

UFV volleyball faces off against CBC in season opener this Friday.

Both the UFV Cascades and CBC Bearcats volleyball teams will be kicking off their respective seasons this weekend in the traditional fashion – back-to-back doubleheaders against each other.

It’s customary in the PacWest that the two squads face each other at the beginning and the end of each varsity season, in October as well as in February.  Lately the Cascades women have had the upper hand while the two men’s teams have proven evenly matched, but this year all the old bets are off.

The Cascades women enter this season with only two returning starters, middles Kierra Noot and Emily Carroll, and are now almost an entirely different squad than the one that blazed to a CCAA national championship in 2012-2013. With six new roster players, and others (such as setter-turned-libero Nicole Blackford) switching positions on the court, the Cascades are covered in question marks.

The CBC women have lost much of their old guard as well with the departure of April Vandraager, Sadie Ball, and Anna Cupido. Now led by 2013-14 PacWest Rookie of the Year Jodi Enns, the Bearcats are a different squad with a different core than last season.

Both teams enjoyed deep post-seasons two years ago, followed by disappointing finishes in the last campaign, and both are looking to start this season off right with a couple of wins against their cross-town rivals.

The Cascades men have struggled in recent years, missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2006.  Hoping to resurrect the old magic is new coach Kyle Donen, who has assembled a collection of fresh recruits and returning alumni to march in his first PacWest campaign. The Cascades went 8-16 last season, and are returning Josh Togeretz, Robert Koenig, and Adam Chaplin to the ranks.

The Bearcats achieved their best PacWest result ever in 2014 with a 16-8 record that catapulted them to a  first place finish in the league and a fourth place finish at the national championship.  While CBC is still a solid squad, they’ve lost starters Jeremy Lieuwen, Will Quiring, and setter Jason Warkentin, who undeniably formed the heart of the team. Third year coach Phil Wiens is hoping to fill the gaps with new recruits Josh Goosen, Mitchell Erickson, and Abbotsford native Riley Wall.

The teams will play at 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men) at UFV on Friday and at CBC on Saturday evening.